What happens after the Women’s March?
More than a million people turned out on Saturday’s women’s marches all over the United States as a display of dissent against Trump’s presidency. According to the Washington Post as many as half a million people marched on Washington D.C. Also experts interviewed by the New York Times said Women’s March in D.C had 3 times more people than Trump’s Inauguration.
Certainly the Women’s March was a success but a single question remains: What happens next?
Susan Chira and Jonathan Martin, both writers for the New York Times, say the challenge faces by organizers is how to channel the resolve and outrage of the protest into action that produces political change.
As soon as the march ended its leaders convened a rally and networking session under the “Where Do We Go From Here?” name. Also, on Sunday Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health services, held a training session for over 2,000organizers on turning mobilization into political action.
Certainly this is a reason to worry because past popular movement from Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter failed to achieved political change.
Saturday’s march embraced a lot of issues, from reproductive rights to environmental activism, instead past movements have rallied around one unifying cause like the Vietnam War or civil rights. Nonetheless this march’s organizers believe revulsion and contempt for Trump may be powerful enough.
“Trump is the cure here,” said Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat and supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont during the Democratic primary. “He brings everybody together.”
Todd Gitlin, a former president of Students for a Democratic Society and a scholar of political movements noted that the civil rights and antiwar movements succeeded because of the organized networks that preceded and followed any single mass protest.
“The march on Washington in 1963 was the culmination of years of local activism, including civil disobedience, registering voters, protecting civil rights workers and voter education movements. Organizations need to be ready to receive the protesters when they’re ready to take the next step. You need to be a full-service movement,” he said.
This is something already underway in the US. Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, says the key was to build a continuous relationship with voters and volunteers so that they are not only approached before elections. Also it is important for the movement to be inclusive and endorse a majority.
Chira and Martin conclude their article by saying the urgency of Trump presidency may help bridge the Democratic Party’s divides and as Ms. Poo said, “We together have to have the resources and creativity enough to solve problems for all of us. There’s a lot of work to do to get there.”
Meanwhile, Roe McDermott, a San Francisco journalist wrote for Hot Press, “The truth is this: a protest is not activism, it’s the advertisement, the awareness-building, the call to action. Activism is not an event, or an afternoon, but a commitment to long-term action”
“My hope from the Women’s March is that everyone who turned up on the streets of San Francisco, of Boston, of New York, of Washington, that we will continue to turn up, every day. That we continue to fight for the rights of women, no matter what race or ethnicity or religion. Because we’re all in this together. And not just for marches, not just when it suits us, not just when it affects us. But always.”